Kerry great John Egan passes away


Gaelic Games:The death has taken place at the age of 59 of the great Kerry footballer John Egan. Six times an All-Ireland winner with Mick O’Dwyer’s team of the 1970s and ’80s, the Sneem corner forward was one of the most feared attackers in the game.

A retired member of an Garda Síochána, he passed away at his home in Cork yesterday morning, having recently undergone heart surgery.

Former team-mate Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, expressed his sympathy today.
“John and I first played together on the Kerry minor team in the 1970s and continued to play together right up to 1982. As well as being a great team-mate John was a great friend, and any person lucky enough to play with him at that time will remember his skill, his team spirit and his warmth.

“My thoughts today are with John's family and friends. Ar dheis De go raibh a Anam dilis.”

Patrick O'Sullivan, county chair on behalf of Kerry GAA, expressed his sorrow on the passing of one of Kerry's true heroes. He extended his deepest sympathies to the Egan family and the Sneem club.

A member of one of the most decorated teams in history John Egan played for the county between 1973 and ’84. Not as extrovert as some of his charismatic team-mates he was none the less regarded as one of the key contributors to an attack featuring such storied names as Eoin Liston, Mike Sheehy and Pat Spillane.

He was frequently described as the most under-rated player on the team – to the point where the description became a contradiction in terms.

An indication of his impact can be seen in his goal scoring record in All-Ireland finals during the famous Kerry-Dublin rivalry of the era. In 1975 when a very young Kerry side faced then champions Dublin in the All-Ireland final, it was a goal from Egan in the third minute that set the tone for what was then a major upset.

Similarly three years later when Dublin were dominating the first quarter of the 1978 final, it was another goal from Egan, against the run of play, that helped turn around the match. Again a year later he scored a goal against Dublin and earned the penalty converted by Sheehy.

“There’s no doubt but that John Egan was the complete footballer,” according to his team-mate and Irish Times football analyst John O’Keeffe, “and a great team player. He was never selfish and the team ethic was important to him – he would always bring other players into the game, never trying to win matches on his own.

“What stood out was his application and dedication. He worked very hard and never missed training and became an outstanding forward. He was the quiet man on the team but you always got the impression that he really enjoyed it and was a natural footballer.

“He played nearly all of his football in the corner but he could have played in numerous other positions. He had an eye for goal and finishing a move, an ability to be calm and composed in pressure situations.

“More than anything there was a consistency to John’s performances. He very rarely had a bad day and came up with crucial goals in numerous games when our backs were against the wall.”

John Egan won All-Irelands in 1975, during the four-in-a-row sequence of 1978-81, and in the GAA Centenary year of 1984. He captained the Kerry team that came agonisingly close to winning an unprecedented – and still unattained – five successive All-Irelands in the final of 1982. He retired two years later after winning his sixth All-Ireland medal. He was also awarded five All Stars in 1975, ’77, ’78, ’80 and ’82.
“He was never one for the media or self publicity,” remembers O’Keeffe. “In after-match celebrations you’d have to go looking for him and he was usually found with his friends from Sneem in a quiet corner. That typified his character.”

He is survived by his wife Mary, son John who has represented Ireland at under-age level in soccer, and daughter Maureen.